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Biol Res Nurs. 2010 Jul;12(1):47-53. doi: 10.1177/1099800410366301. Epub 2010 May 7.

Sleep restriction is associated with increased morning plasma leptin concentrations, especially in women.

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Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, USA.



We evaluated the effects of sleep restriction on leptin levels in a large, diverse sample of healthy participants, while allowing free access to food.


Prospective experimental design. After 2 nights of baseline sleep, 136 participants (49% women, 56% African Americans) received 5 consecutive nights of 4 hours time in bed (TIB). Additionally, one subset of participants received 2 additional nights of either further sleep restriction (n = 27) or increased sleep opportunity (n = 37). Control participants (n = 9) received 10 hr TIB on all study nights. Plasma leptin was measured between 10:30 a.m. and 12:00 noon following baseline sleep, after the initial sleep-restriction period, and after 2 nights of further sleep restriction or recovery sleep.


Leptin levels increased significantly among sleep-restricted participants after 5 nights of 4 hr TIB (Z = -8.43, p < .001). Increases were significantly greater among women compared to men (Z = -4.77, p < .001) and among participants with higher body mass index (BMI) compared to those with lower (Z = -2.09, p = .036), though participants in all categories (sex, race/ethnicity, BMI, and age) demonstrated significant increases. There was also a significant effect of allowed TIB on leptin levels following the 2 additional nights of sleep restriction (p < .001). Participants in the control condition showed no significant changes in leptin levels.


These findings suggest that sleep restriction with ad libitum access to food significantly increases morning plasma leptin levels, particularly among women.

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